R&B legend Donell Jones to co-headline a star-studded line-up at Sacramento Memorial on March 1.

By Eddie Jorgensen

Donell Jones cut his teeth writing music for other performers before releasing his debut in 1996. Bolstered by the single “In the Hood” and a well-received and thoughtful cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me Off My Feet,” his first record, ‘My Heart,’ made its mark. Jones then became both a national and international sensation with the release of his sophomore album, ‘Where I Wanna Be,’ which made it into the Billboard Top 100 and peaked at #40. 

Sacramento has always been a huge market for Jones, as evidenced by his record sales and strong attendance at shows. With a voice that is instantly recognizable, and a back catalog that has stood the test of time, Jones is still very much a live force. SN&R caught up with him in preparation for his run of shows.

SN&R: You released your first record at the ripe young age of 23. Were you ready for the reception you’d soon receive?

Donell Jones: I was definitely ready for the opportunity and for the world to hear me as an artist. I was already writing songs for Usher and Jade.

SN&R: Any advice for new R&B artists?

Jones: I’ve learned that you gotta have a strong team. No one can do it alone and you have to never stop ‘cause all it takes is one record. For anyone trying to to get in the business, the only thing I would say is practice and learn from the legends that came before you

SN&R: You put out your seventh full-length record – ‘100% Free’ – on your website for nothing. What was your rationale?

Jones: I released that album during the pandemic to give the world something from my heart that was free for everyone who wanted to listen. And that’s exactly what I did.

SN&R: What’s 2024 look like beyond this Sacramento show?

Jones: I plan to stay busy in 2024. I have a live band, but this Sacramento show is a track (pre-taped backing music) date.

SN&R: I worked for your distributor, BMG, when you released ‘Where I Wanna Be’ and we could barely keep that record in stock around the Sacramento valley.  What do you remember about that tour on a national level?

Jones: That tour was amazing ‘cause I went out with Alicia Keys and when that album came out,  “U Know What’s Up” took off. Having Left Eye (from TLC fame) on that record made it blow up even more. It stayed at Billboard Number 1 (on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart) for 8 weeks, so that was huge for me and my future career.

SN&R: Do you have new material that will make it into your set? Can we expect a little from each of your LaFace releases?

Jones: I try to sing a little bit of everything, but my time is limited on this show and I’m only doing the hits.

Dwight Murphy Presents hosts ‘A Night For Lovers’ featuring Joe, Donell Jones, Jacquees, Pleasure P, Case, Suice Da Connect, J. Holiday, and Adrian Marcel on Friday, March 1st at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium located at 1515 J Street in Sacramento. Tickets can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com.

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